top doctors small

Trigeminal neuralgia is a condition identified by severe pain in a person’s face that lingers for several seconds. In some cases, the pain can spread throughout the whole face. Across the U.S., it affects more than 40,000 patients a year.

The trigeminal nerves (one on each side of the face) are responsible for the majority of sensation in the face. The main part of each nerve is located at the base of the brain, and divides into three seperate branches – V1, V2, and V3. Trigeminal neuralgia is typically limited to just one of these branches.

V1 – The first branch provides sensation from the forehead to the eye (including the upper lid).

V2 – The second branch provides sensation to the lower eyelid and cheek, down to the nostril, ending at the upper lip and gums.

V3 – The third branch provides sensation to the jaw, lower lip, and gums (including some of the muscles used for chewing).


Trigeminal Neuralgia

Though it is not clearly known what causes trigeminal neuralgia, it is thought to be the result of abnormal compression of the trigeminal nerve due to the rigidity of a normal, aging blood vessel. Other rare causes may include:

Abnormal Blood Vessels


Multiple Sclerosis


Treatment of trigeminal neuralgia typically involves oral medications. Seizure medicine, like carbamazepine or phenytoin, is usually prescribed to the patient. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe a muscle relaxer. If conservative treatment doesn’t reduce the facial pain, or has undesirable side effects, surgery may be recommended. In such cases, Microvascular Decompression may be performed to take pressure off of the trigeminal nerve and return normal sensation back to the face.

Microvascular Decompression

Microvascular Decompression is performed to relieve pressure off the ganglion and nerve inside the skull, preserving sensation in the face.